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Donald L. Roberts Collection of Music of the Southwest and Mexico

Identifier: MU-14

Scope and Content

This collection of field and commercial recordings was donated to the UNM Archive of Southwest Music by Donald L. Roberts and offers a wide variety of music selections collected in the 1960s. Most of the collection includes interesting commentary about these songs in Spanish and English.

The majority of the items are Navajo chants, songs, dances and healing ceremonies from Crownpoint, New Mexico. There are sections of dialogue and singing by John Nez, a Navajo medicine man, who discusses the use of sand paintings and prayer for healing. Included are English translations. A later section features contemporary Navajo songs and dances. The collection also includes recordings of Hopi, Pueblo, Ute, Navajo, Apache and Kiowa songs and dances with discussions about their meanings.

There are recordings of a Matachines dance from San Juan Pueblo, and a Spanish Los Pastores program performed at the Guadalupe Church, in Taos, N.M. The last section contains traditional Mexican folksongs in Spanish as well as French and Italian tunes performed by the University of Chihuahua Grupo Folklórico.

Forms part of the John Donald Robb Archive of Southwestern Music.


  • 1964-1968

Language of Materials


Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research.

Copy Restrictions

Limited duplication of CSWR material is allowed for research purposes. User is responsible for compliance with all copyright, privacy, and libel laws. Permission is required for publications or distribution.

Biography / History

Donald L. Roberts was born in 1938 and grew up in Dodge City, Kansas. He attended the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, and received a degree in music theory in Kansas. He graduated with a Masters in Ethnomusicology in 1963 from the University of Michigan.

Roberts worked at the University of New Mexico, Fine Arts Library, 1963-1968. In 1964, he helped establish the Archives of Southwestern Music at the Fine Arts Library. Roberts was active in many library and music organizations and played bassoon in the Albuquerque Symphony Orchestra. In 1969 Roberts transferred to Northwestern University, where he was director of the music library and taught in the school of music. He had a distinguished career and made many contributions in the fields of music, ethnomusicology, and music librarianship. He retired from Northwestern in 2002. Roberts published a number of chapters and articles regarding German music, Native American music, working with sound archives, school music programs and music reference materials.


10 CDs (15 hrs.)


The collection contains recordings of Navajo, Hopi and Pueblo songs, as well as a few Apache, Ute, and Kiowa songs. A major part deals with the history and use of sand paintings, native medicine and star beliefs. There are also Matachines dances, a Los Pastores program and a concert of songs performed by the University of Chihuahua Folkloric group. The collection includes detailed explanations of the selections.

Related Material

Paul Tosa Collection of Jemez Pueblo Music Center for Southwest Research, University of New Mexico Manuel Archuleta collection of Pueblo Indian, Navajo and Hopi music, Center for Southwest Research, University of New Mexico James B. Wright Collection of Southwestern Native American and Hispanic Music, Interviews and Literary ProgramsCenter for Southwest Research, University of New Mexico Hugh Milton Miller Film Collection Center for Southwest Research, University Libraries, University of New Mexico Sally Noe collection of Gallup oral histories and Southwest Native American music Center for Southwest Research, University Libraries, University of New Mexico

Processing Information

Cassettes reformatted to CD in June 2011.

NOTE: The order of items on the CDs matches the order of items in the list below. However, due to the reformatting process, CD tracks do not necessarily start or stop at the same events as the list below.

Inquire with reference staff for access to unprocessed addition (June 2018), 1 box, B3-11A. Includes reel-to-reel sound recordings which contain music by Cleofas Jaramillo, "Los Tres Reyes Magos" presented by Caballeros de Vargas, West Coast Indian groups and other Native American traditional music. Additions also include a 4 set long play (gramophone) music albums "Indian Songs of the Southwest" by John S. Candelario productions. These materials need to be digitized before listening.
Finding Aid of the Donald L. Roberts Collection of Music of the Southwest and Mexico, 1964-1968
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid is in English

Revision Statements

  • Monday, 20210524: Attribute normal is missing or blank.

Repository Details

Part of the UNM Center for Southwest Research & Special Collections Repository

University of New Mexico Center for Southwest Research & Special Collections
University Libraries, MSC05 3020
1 University of New Mexico
Albuquerque NM 87131